Stutz Artist Highlight: Wendy Franklin

Photography by Esther Boston

Stutz Artist Association is celebrating its 25th Anniversary this Thursday through Saturday.

Artists and the building will be decked out in silver to celebrate the anniversary event. Artists will have paintings, photography, furniture, sculpture, jewelry and more for purchase, including a featured silver piece in each studio.

Guests have an opportunity to see creative spaces in this historic building, experience the thriving Stutz art community, enjoy live music, make their own art, take a selfie in a Stutz automobile, and tour the turn-of-the century car factory turned business and arts center. On Saturday, artists will have demonstrations and children can participate in a scavenger hunt.

Proceeds from the Open House support the Stutz Residency Program by funding a scholarship that provides one-year free studio space and utilities for emerging local artists. It is one of the largest grants to individual artists in the state.

To help celebrate such an important milestone, PATTERN was able to chat with a handful of Stutz’ resident artists about their practices and art.

With artwork on the walls and an assortment of lemon and lime trees growing near the ceiling length glass-paned windows, fiber artist Wendy Franklin’s studio will be filled with never before seen work at this year’s Stutz open house. “I have a whole new body of work,” she says, “Very little of what will be on the wall people have seen before, so it will be a good time to stop by.”

The fresh inventory is due to Franklin emptying her studio of about twenty-seven pieces for an art show at the Evansville Museum. This is in addition to eight art galleries across the country representing her work and sales to individual collectors. Locally, her art installations can be seen at Community North Cancer Center, Bedel Financial, Barnes & Thornburgh and Renaissance Electronics.

The Ball State graduate first started in fiber arts while working with silver jewelry. “My idea was to back silver pieces with fiber. It didn’t work, but I fell in love with the process,” she says. After a year of developing the technique, she took up residence at the Stutz Building and her art career took off from there. “The process I use is called nuno felting. It’s done in the U.S. but not typically for wall pieces, more for wearables. It was a transition to get it into a medium as an art form as opposed to a craft.”

Working in mixed media consisting of a combination of silk and wool, the process begins with a fine layer of merino wool. It’s first topped with silk, and then more wool and silk are added. After wetting the piece, she rolls, rubs and throws it and the agitation drives the fibers through the silk to form the cloth. The final product is sealed and mounted, or used for her bar collection in which the cloth is wrapped around wooden or metal rods.

This year marks Franklin’s eighth Stutz open house and through the years she has experienced the changes in the local art scene, seeing it start to incorporate more contemporary trends. “To me, it’s a great place to be based,” she says, “I’ve got the Stutz which I love, it’s cheaper to have a studio here and we’re centrally located.  I like this city. It’s a great home space.”

Fun facts about Wendy: she’s allergic to wool and enjoys bourbon and lip gloss. “I can’t walk into a rug shop or a fiber festival and be around wool in the raw form. I’m allergic to the lanolin, but I work with every day in the more processed form. Lip gloss, bourbon and citrus trees, that pretty much sums me up.”

You can see Wendy’s fiber art along with her collection of lemon and lime trees at this year’s Stutz Open House, Friday, April 27 from 5:30 to 10:30 and Saturday, April 28 from 1:00 to 5:00 pm.

Follow Wendy Franklin on her social media:
Instagram: @WendyFranklinArt
Facebook: @WendyFranklinArtist
Website: www.WendyFranklinArt.com

Photography by Esther Boston